US women’s gymnastics team clinches gold at world championships

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With all eyes turned to the World Series matchup between the Dodgers and Red Sox, attention has been turned away from an important and undoubtedly more athletic championship: the Gymnastics World Championships. Taking place in Doha, Qatar, this year’s event is the first time it has been hosted in the Middle East.

This marathon event, spanning from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3, just concluded the team competition portion for both men and women and will be spending the rest of the week on individual medals.

Across the four events — vault, bars, beam and floor — the five members of the U.S. women’s team amassed a total of 171.63 team points, with the closest runners-up being Russia (162.86), China (162.40) and Canada (161.64).

The contest was quite contentious, though, as there was only a 3.44-point gap between second-place Russia and last-place Germany. This means the individual competition portion will be particularly close, and a gymnast from any country could take home a medal if they stick their landing.

The gymnast who doesn’t have to worry, however, is the United States’ Simone Biles, who earned the highest combined score of any event in the women’s team finals round: a 15.50 on the vault, in which she landed a “Cheng,” or a layout front flip with 1 1/2 twists, finishing with a controlled hop back.

While a Cheng is considered one of the most difficult vaults to master, Biles also succeeded in pushing the envelope even further by creating a move that has been named after her. In the qualifying rounds, Biles performed a Cheng with two full twists, which has never been done before in competition and thus is now called the “Biles.”

This is the second time that Biles has had a move named after her, the first being a double back layout with a half twist on the floor, which she debuted at the 2013 world championships.

While a stunning display from Biles was not unexpected, it was especially impressive considering she competed through the severe pain of a kidney stone over the weekend.

“We had to go to the ER, because I’ve been having stomach pains on my right side for two days,” Biles said in an interview with The Guardian. “We got tests done and they found a kidney stone. I’m in a bit of pain (today), so adrenaline helps.”

Physical pain aside, the U.S. team — composed of Biles, Kara Eaker, Morgan Hurd, Grace McCallum and Riley McCusker — once again proved its prowess on an international level as it took gold and solidified its spot in the 2020 Olympics.

Considering that the average range of scores has stayed between 13 and 16 over two tries, where a perfect score would be 20, no performances were perfect. The gymnasts are right in the middle of a four-year wait between Olympics, so routines are not expected to be polished.

Rather than a showing of the best gymnastics in the world, the Gymnastics World Championships serve as an indicator of up-and-coming gymnasts and who to lookout for in the next Olympics. And the U.S. women’s team, led by Biles, has proven itself to be the one to beat come 2020.

Lucy Schaefer writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @lucyjschaefer.